Cultural Differences Among Teenagers

Marcelina Hardy, MSEd, BCC
Cultural differences of teens

Knowing the cultural differences of teenagers can help you understand friends who are of a different ethnicity. With this understanding, you won't run the risk of being disrespectful. You'll also know if you are misunderstanding your friend's behavior when it seems like he/she is being offensive.

The Expression of Cultural Differences of Teenagers

Attending a culturally diverse school means you will have to communicate with teenagers from different ethnic backgrounds. You will notice cultural differences in body language and oral communication, since these are the two ways that people express their beliefs and values.

Asian, Hispanic and American Cultural Differences

One of the reasons for cultural differences between certain ethnicities and Americans is because of the teachings of that culture. Being raised by parents who did not grow up in America can prove to be difficult when the customs and ways of thought are not the same as their American counterpart. What happens is that when teens from different cultural backgrounds come together, they become confused to why everyone doesn't act or think the same way that they do. Two ethnic groups that fall into this case are Asian and Hispanic teens because they often have a different cultural background than American teens.

Asian and American Cultural Differences

When communicating with Asian teenagers, consider the following cultural differences:

  • Friendship

Some Asian teens generally prefer having a small group of life-long friends. They are committed and loyal to their friends. Americans often prefer a larger group of friends with many acquaintances. There is less commitment to keeping friends for life because of their bigger pool of possible friendships.

  • Working relationships

If you are working a group project with an Asian teen, he/she might maintain a harmonious relationship with you and will make that a priority before working on the assignment. Many Americans focus on the task first and may foster a relationship with group members while working; getting the job done is priority.

  • Confrontation

You may notice that some Asian teenagers are not confrontational and will avoid controversial topics. Many American teenagers, however, are more willing to confront others and discuss controversial topics even if it might cause turmoil among their peers.

  • Romantic relationships

Many people of Asian descent look towards the distant future rather than the near future as many Americans normally do. Therefore, many Asian teens are often more serious about relationships and will dedicate themselves to it for the long term.

  • Body Language

Looking an Asian person in the eye is a form of disrespect and aggression, while an American appreciates the eye contact because it means the person is paying attention. The Asian are comfortable with less personal space than Americans are. They may also touch you on the shoulder or arm when they don't know you. Don't be surprised if you are pushed by someone of the Asian culture, they don't think this is rude.

Hispanic and American Cultural Differences

  • Family

Family comes first in the Hispanic culture. Teenagers stay close to home and have a stronger commitment to their parents than many American teens do. While Hispanic families enforce dependence on each other, American families encourage their children and teenagers to be independent.

  • Confrontation

You may notice that some Hispanic teenagers don't like it when someone confronts them or shares a difference of opinion, while many American teenagers stand up to confrontation and find power in voicing their opinion.

  • Romantic relationships

Since some Hispanic teens have such a strong tie to their family, they may show a similar commitment to their boyfriend/girlfriend. However, if the family does not approve of the relationship, the Hispanic teenager may be more apt to break it off out of respect for his/her family.

  • Body Language

Hispanic individuals are comfortable with less personal space. They also will hold onto a hug or handshake longer. When standing in front of a Hispanic teen, refrain from putting your hands on your hips or in your pockets, he/she may think you are being rude.

Beware of Generalizing

It's important to keep in mind that when learning about cultural differences of teenagers, you should not generalize the information. Every person is different and no one fits into a cultural cookie cutter. The key to understanding cultural differences with your friends is to ask them for guidance. All cultures appreciate kindness and respect.

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Cultural Differences Among Teenagers